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Boy Erased: A Memoir

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3.65  ·  Rating details ·  8,956 ratings  ·  1,207 reviews
A beautiful, raw and compassionate memoir about identity, love and understanding. Now a major motion picture starring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, and Lucas Hedges, directed by Joel Edgerton. “Every sentence of the story will stir your soul” (O Magazine).

The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley w
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Hardcover, 340 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by Riverhead Books
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Mackey Love in Action is a "conversion" camp and it IS legal. In fact, the Vice President of the US, Mike Pence, fully embraces and encourages these camps as…moreLove in Action is a "conversion" camp and it IS legal. In fact, the Vice President of the US, Mike Pence, fully embraces and encourages these camps as a way to rid "sinful men and women" of their homosexual thoughts and deeds. Those are HIS words, not mine. He and his wife financially supported such a place when he was Governor of Indiana and their churches that they attend still do. These are nothing short of torture, people die and/or have committed suicide often at these camps and the government - state and federal are aware of this. They should be outlawed but they are protected under the misguided belief that the constitution protects religion and that somehow this vile and horrific practice is "religious." (less)

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3.65  · 
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 ·  8,956 ratings  ·  1,207 reviews


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Glenn Sumi
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This book, an account of Garrard Conley’s experiences in a Southern gay conversion therapy program called Love In Action, was a big disappointment.

I’d seen and reviewed the world premiere film adaptation of the book at the Toronto Film Festival, so I was curious to see how it had been adapted to the screen.

In this case, the movie, although it shares some structural problems with the book, is much better. It’s got a sharper dramatic arc and sense of momentum; it illustrates scenes that are merely
...more
Elyse Walters
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5 strong stars -- Geeeee!!! I am sorry this took place in the Bay Area!!!! Shame on us for allowing such a 'sick-program'!!

THE AUDIOBOOK HELD MY ATTENTION-- I was literally shocked at some of the things that went on in this 12 step program- to FIX GAY PEOPLE! I had NO IDEA that these institutions REALLY existed.

Garrard Conley: I'm soooo sorry for what you went through! Your memoir is completely engaging- shocking and heart wrenching-- my god-- yuck: so disturbing...
AND YOU ARE THE LUCKY ONE: Y
...more
Justin Tate
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank God for Garrard Conley. It must've taken unimaginable strength to write this, to relive the worst of it, and open himself up to the world. It's not a happy story. It's not a story about a boy who had a difficult upbringing but is great now. It's clear from the overt and underlining text that every day is still a challenge. Life gets better, but it doesn't get easy.

I understand why some have critiqued the structure of the memoir. It does jump around in time and is not always as dramatic as
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JV (semi-hiatus)

"Anything. I’ll do anything to erase this part of me."
There were times I wondered what it feels like to be a cisgender male in our heteronormative society. A part of me yearns for that kind of normality where being heterosexual is the default, but that is not the case for me. Being raised as a Catholic, I have struggled in coming to terms with my own sexuality plus the hullabaloos of being different and gay. The feelings of guilt and shame of being attracted to boys were there and reminded me
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Thomas
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

A compelling, compassionate memoir about Garrard Conley's struggle with his homosexuality while growing up in an ultra-religious town and family. He writes about undergoing ex-gay conversion therapy, disappointing his father - a Baptist pastor - and his church as a whole, and using writing itself to cope with his emotional wounds. Though he tells his story in a consistent personal narrative style, Conley connects his journey to the pain that many LGBTQ youth endure when raised in intole
...more
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
I do not come from a fundamentalist Christian background, but as a gay man who has dabbled in queer journalism over the years, I have done quite a bit of reading, research, and writing about the ex-gay movement. It goes without saying that I loath everything about it; I've been delighted to see the various exposes and disbandings of late.

So I was very much looking forward to reading this fresh new memoir about a young gay guy in the American South and his experience in the ex-gay movement. Now t
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April
May 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not sure if it was too long, too boring, too religious, or too repetitive, but I didn't like it...clearly I am in the minority. I just never got a feeling for the character.
Simon
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Well Garrard Conley's memoir about 'ex-gay' therapy, Boy Erased, is incredible. I've been through all the feelings; horror, sadness, disbelief, joy, hope - the works. One of my Books Of 2016 without a doubt. I want everyone to read it.
Doug
May 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Update, 3/1/19: So I finally got around to seeing the film, purportedly based on this book, now that it's out on DVD, and, as I originally prophesied in the comments below, very, VERY little of the book made it into the movie ... at most, I'd say 25%. The film has some other problems of its own, but is certainly well intentioned and well acted - it just isn't much like its source material.

Surprised at all the glowing reviews, since this book is unfortunately not only woefully overwritten, but a
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Mackey
I rarely, almost never watch a movie or television but over spring break the kids were home and they insisted. My only request was that it had to be based on a book. My review here is based on both the book and the movie and is relatively intertwined because, while truncated, the movie follows along with the book pretty well.

I am a HUGE Russell Crowe fan and I absolutely had to see this one. Nicole Kidman, despite the worst wig in all of Hollywood, was amazing as well. This must see film is bas
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Gabby
Well, no surprise here but this book was sad. It’s a true story about a 19 year old gay boy who gets unexpectedly outted to his religious parents and they force him to go to ex gay conversion therapy.

I listened to the audiobook for this (which was fantastic by the way) and I was constantly surprised by the horrific things this young man experienced. It makes me sick to my stomach to think these ex gay conversion places existed at all, even as recently as 2004???? 😱😩

The beginning of this book w
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Roumy Mihaylova
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had started reading Garrard Conley's beautiful memoir when, one night, I had the strangest dream. I was in a library, and on the highest shelf, the one out of reach, there were piles of different books. I saw three copies of Boy Erased: A Memoir on that highest shelf. When I asked the librarian how I could get one, I was told that if I could jump high enough to reach it, the book would be mine forever. So I started jumping, and jumping, and jumping, and when jumping did not help, I leaned agai ...more
Eric Hausman-Houston
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just finished BOY ERASED, and I'm so glad this book is out there. Not only because this horrific story, beautifully written with humor and gut wrenching honesty, is so important to be told, but also because it means this wonderful young man has survived, though with scars that may take a lifetime to heal.

I had the good fortune of hearing Garrard discuss BOY ERASED at the The National Arts Club in NYC. His speaks as well as he writes. He's as down to earth, warm, funny, intelligent as one woul
...more
Julie Ehlers
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
When I first heard about this book I had a vague feeling that I didn't really need to read it. After all, I was raised Catholic, so I felt like I already knew all about "faith-based" homophobia. After a bit of contemplation, though, I realized that I actually had no idea what goes on in "gay conversion therapy." While I could certainly speculate, in reality everything about it was a mystery to me. So I picked up Boy Erased and decided to find out.

I won't provide a lot of details on the therapy h
...more
Watch Your Words
In this beautifully written memoir Garrard Conley illuminates the devastating effects of his experience trying to empty himself of everything he knows to be true in order to satisfy his family, community, and a God that is becoming increasingly distant. His story is one of many thousands that have endured similar conversion therapies and is urgent in its desire to eradicate this pain from anyone else that is asked to smother the honest, complex and loving parts of their humanity. It is also the ...more
Kelly
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-by-pals
I love so much about this book, and am envious of so much. The clear, beautiful sentences that catch you unawares with the emotional depth they contain. The weavy structure. The lack of goopy sentimentality coupled with total emotional vulnerability. The sense of movement throughout, and the sense of capital-G God looming in the cosmic background radiation while all of this goes on. If you may permit me: GC puts the "pow" in powerful.

Tyler Goodson
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
Boy Erased is the best kind of memoir: one less interested in looking back and arranging the past than in trying to get as close to truth as possible. It's so heartbreaking and affecting because it is never easy, never black and white--you can't help but recognize the humanity in every person involved. Conley's willingness to complicate every issue and person, and never settle for what might be easier and simpler is what we need now, and make this book necessary.
Kyle
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating: 2.5

I picked up this memoir under the impression that it would entail a lengthy/important conversation on conversion therapy programs, as well as the author’s long, arduous journey through the process therein, and, eventually, on to his post-therapy years. What I got was merely a fleeting glimpse of that.

Here’s the thing: this book is sorely underdeveloped.

Mr. Conley writes from a wobbly memory of his eight-day stay at LIA (Love in Action)— an über-religious gay conversion program.
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Pavellit
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an important story about a boy who is forced to participate in a church-supported gay conversion program, ironically called 'Love in Action', which in its short time has managed to erased him, perhaps in ways that can't be repaired. It's also about the reality of being a gay son of a baptist preacher in the South in a strictly religious community- full of secrets, full of unsaid words. The Bible belt is more suffocating than ever. The memoir is filled with poetic and vibrant writing and ...more
Brian Murray
Boy Erased is an unpleasant and necessary read.

Conley details some very complex and dark emotions. This is not really the story of his coming out, nor is it the story of his days in ex-gay therapy, although those are both chronicled. No, this book is a chaos, emotionally, thematically, and structurally. Conley frequently goes back and forth between three or even four narrative threads at once. It can be confusing at first, but as you read, the connections he makes between events and his thoughts
...more
Lynn
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this book as I just went to the movie of the same name. The author was born in Arkansas to conservative Missionary Baptist parents and from a young age, he had same-sex-attractions. His parents found out, were shamed, and sent him to religiously based ex-gay therapy.

The book provides more of the back story but it is not as dramatic as the book. The ending of the movie is more positive and hopeful than the real story. Thank you, Hollywood. This memoir is an excruciating account
...more
Scott S.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what bothered me more about Boy Erased -- that author Conley experienced some of the objectionable things (being sent to 'ex-gay' therapy by his devoutly religious parents as an adult, etc.) he details in his memoir, or that after the first 100 or so pages that the powerful and affecting narrative sort of frustratingly jumps the tracks for awhile. However, I need to be fair and mention that by the final two or three chapters things regain some of that early, raw momentum.

The story,
...more
Ian R
Jun 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
The best thing about this book is the title. The narrative is confused by leaps in time, very little of consequence actually happens, given that the climax is that the author walks out of the first step of a 12-step program to "cure" him of his homosexuality.

There are pointless insertions: visiting a prison with his fundamentalist preacher father; time spent cleaning cars in his dad's business and being tested on his Bible knowledge. Neither of these narratives seemed to flesh out a decidedly b
...more
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a boy, Garrard's life was immersed in his orthodox community. When he finally decided to come out to his family though, the people he grew up with turned out to be anything but loving or understanding. He was sent to a conversion "straight camp", where it was hoped that his "illness" would be "cured". This memoir is about his resilience and how he overcame the bigotry from his parents and church, and how he has learned to be proud of who he is despite the trauma of the past. Boy Erased is an ...more
Faith Simon
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
It’s probably predictable to state that I was in constant near tears reading this. It was almost like experiencing it all for myself, I felt the grief and pain and struggle so strongly for myself, and it always hurts so much reading of my LGBTQA+ family experiencing atrocities such as what’s described in this novel. The struggle with self-acceptance and the added hardship of coming from a religious household rings very true for me as well, and I just felt the emotions reading this so strongly. I ...more
Zora
Jan 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
Gay conversion therapy is evil, as any sensible person knows. But this is a badly-written book on it. The writing simply isn't good, the thing is unfocused, and a week in day treatment at a pricey out-patient ex-gay brainwashing retreat might be enough topic for a 5000-word essay, but not for a book.

I also detected a real lack of (...well, I know of no other way to say it, but) truthfulness here. Maybe that's typical for people raised in extremist religions that smack of snake oil selling. Or of
...more
David
Review to come.
PattyMacDotComma
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to PattyMacDotComma by: Jane McKelvey
4.5★
“Why hadn’t I noticed this before? It was telling people the truth that got you in trouble.”


Isn’t that so often the way if you’re even slightly out of step with whatever your particular group considers ‘normal’?

Trigger warning for anyone who’s been through (or threatened with) some kind of sexual orientation reprogramming (brainwashing). It isn’t necessarily through religious groups, but I imagine it’s a common starting point. SSA (Same-Sex Attraction) is offensive to whichever god reigns o
...more
Chris
May 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gloria Zmolek
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For the past three years, I have been following Garrard’s journey of writing and publishing BOY ERASED. I knew it was about his experience in an Ex-Gay camp in Arkansas but didn’t know much more, so I expected the book to be mostly about his time in the camp. While an important part of his story, the book is about so much more. Specifically, it is about his process of coming out in the South, commonly referred to as the Bible Belt, while his father is becoming a Baptist minister. Garrard paints ...more
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The BOOK/MOVIE Club: Book #27 - Boy Erased: A Memoir 1 19 Jul 30, 2018 07:54PM  
Fiction Fanatics: February 2018 - Boy Erased: A Memoir 2 20 Feb 09, 2018 07:22PM  

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“What my mother didn’t yet know about being gay in the South was that you never ran out of material, that being secretly gay your whole life, averting your eyes every time you saw a handsome man, praying on your knees every time a sexual thought entered your mind or every time you’d acted even remotely feminine—this gave you an embarrassment of sins for which you constantly felt the need to apologize, repent, beg forgiveness.” 9 likes
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